Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Travelogue - Coorg trip
Here comes my first travelogue. After selling the theory that "there are no good places to visit near Hyderabad" to my wife for an year, I knew I could no longer hide behind that excuse when I moved to Bangalore. Everybody knows that Bangalore has no dearth of weekend getaways. So I planned a trip to Coorg (or Kodagu) in order to maintain credibility of my Hyd theory.
After consulting few friends and reading about Coorg on Team BHP website, I realized that the trip is best made by car and the journey is as beautiful and enjoyable as the destination. Monsoons and clouds did not deter me nor did the fuel price hike :). After packing clothes and some eatables in the night we were all set to travel to THE hill station. I had finalized the route after reading a lot over net and realizing that the entire region cannot be covered in a single trip. So I converged on the following route Bangalore-Mysore-Hunsur-Nagarhole-Kutta-Irpu Falls-Ammathi-Siddapura-Dubare-Nissargadhama-Golden Temple-Mysore-Bangalore. The printouts of the maps were taken and the only thing left was finalizing the homestay. Homestay is a concept unique to Coorg. Coffee estates have been converted into guest houses by the owners and that provides a chance to enjoy a stay in the serene and verdant environment amidst coffee and pepper plantation. Combine this with hospitality and warmth extended by the owners and the experience becomes unmatched. I had already decided that I will stay in a homestay and not a hotel, now the only decision left was the place where I should stay over in the night. I had decided that I would go via Nagarhole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) and visit Irpu falls on day 1 so I could either stay at Ammathi, Siddapura or Kutta. I had anticipated that we will have some time before night falls and thus we should try to reach as close to Dubare Elephant camp as possible and halt for the night accordingly. Thus, I finalized Siddapura as the place to stay over in the night. I booked a homestay after reading the reviews on the different web forums. So I was all set for the trip
We had decided that we will leave AEAP (as early as possible) so as to avoid the mad Bangalore-Mysore traffic of the weekend. We got up at 0330 hours and hit the road by 0440 hours. This turned out to be a wise decision and we were soon cruising on the Bangalore - Mysore highway. after reaching Mysore, the weather gods obliged us and the dark clouds covered the sky - thereby making the trip comfortable. we decided to take a detour on the Mysore ring road and also visited the Krishna Raja Sagar dam (KRS dam) on Cauvery. This dam housed the Asia's first hydroelectric power generating station. Meanwhile we kept a close watch on the time and we had reached KRS Dam in flat 3 hours. We also saw a huge flock of ducks (possibly thousands) on the roadside, that was a treat to the eyes.
So we resumed our journey towards Hunsur. After reaching Hunsur we took a small break, had breakfast and left for Nagarhole. The road from Hunsur to Nagarhole was quite narrow, it was barely a 2 lane road. However, the weather was amazing and it was drizzling intermittently. We also saw a fake Cafe@Coorg, modeled along the lines of Cafe Coffee Day
We reached Nagarhole National Park entrance by 10 AM and the drive through the park was truly amazing. The dense forest coupled with amazing weather made it a memorable experience. The drive through the National park was the best part of the trip. We were lucky to spot some elephants, deer, stags and wild dogs. Due to rains, the animals were taking shelter under the trees and were not visible from the road. We were expecting to see the Tiger. However, the only Tiger we saw was on the board. Later some office colleagues told us that the best time for tiger sighting is the evening.
After exiting from Nagarhole at around 12 PM, we headed towards Irpu falls via Kutta. Suddenly coffee estates and pepper plantations sprung out of nowhere. there was greenery all around. the road was narrow and constant rains had cut off the road at the edges. The drivers on 4X4 coming from the opposite way were considerate enough while passing us and used to give our vehicle enough space to pass through. We had entered the hilly area and that was evident by the view of clouds covering the hill tops. The Irpu falls were a treat for the eyes, though the combination of rains and steep path had made the trek up to the falls a difficult one. At Irpu we could see the clouds enveloping the hills, making it a sight to behold. We just sat in the car and watched the amazing sight for an hour.
At 1430 hours we decided to leave Irpu falls and head towards our home stay in Siddapura. The distance was more than 80 kms and needless to say that some of the sights left us spellbound. We were surrounded by coffee plantations and it rained all the time. We reached our homestay at around 1630 hours. the place was beautiful and our host was gracious enough to provide us endless cups of home made filter coffee. We were famished as we had not stopped anywhere to eat, instead spent time in watching the natural beauty around us. Our host also provided us some snacks and eatables. We decided to take a walk around the coffee estate and explore the area. However the slippery ground quickly made us reverse our decision and we decided to stick to the metaled road instead. In the evening we were joined by another couple from Bangalore and we had a great evening mingling with them and sharing our experiences. It was all misty in the evening and the temperature had dipped several notches. After covering more than 300 km and witnessing some truly amazing sights we decided to call it a day.
The next day turned out to be rather dull and failed to live up to the expectations. Sunny day coupled with high humidity proved to be a dampener. we left the estate by 9AM and approached Dubare Elephant training camp. this camp was located on the other bank of the cauvery river. The river was in full glory and we could see several small islands and trees submerged under water. We saw several elephants taking bath and they performed several stunts on the directions of their masters. After spending an hour in the elephant training camp we decided to leave for Nissargadham. Nissargadham is an island made by different tributaries of Cauvery river. This again was not worth the visit. But we did spend some time there. The sun was rising and so was the humidity. By 1230 hours we decided to leave for Golden Temple (Buddhist temple). the terrain had changed from hilly and green to plains. The humidity and sun had sapped our energies. We reached Golden temple, a Buddhist monastery and temple, at 1300 hours. The temple was breathtaking and well maintained. we spent some quiet time there and left for Mysore at around 1430 hours. The drive back to Mysore was rather dull. We had witnessed some amazing sights on the previous day, therefore everything appeared dull when compared to the picturesque beauty of Coorg.
We stopped over at Brindavan Garden, but were too tired to walk around the whole place. So we decided to leave for Bangalore at 1700 hours. Drive back from Bangalore to Mysore was a mad race. It looked just like NFS (Need For Speed) game. With cars racing at 100 kmph and frequently changing lanes. You just had to follow the rules of the game otherwise you will be honked at and glared at. The Mysore-Bangalore stretch is also very congested, due to large number of people returning back to Bangalore on Sunday night. Anyways, we reached our home by 2030 hours. Overall, it was a memorable trip and has inspired me to plan another trip very soon. It could be either Bandipur National park or Ooty. Keep reading